Ottawa's Science and Tech Museum reveals new home for its famous trains

Trains.
The locomotives are back at the Ottawa Science and Technology Museum. Photo by Alex Abdelwahab, Metro.

By Alex Abdelwahab

The trains are back.

Well, actually, they never really left. The Canada Science and Technology Museum’s well-known locomotives were too heavy to move during the building’s reconstruction, so instead they were wrapped in protective plastic covering.

On Thursday, they were back on display, as the museum unveiled its nearly completed locomotive hall during a special media preview tour.

In the past, the hall relied heavily on the physical presence of the trains to hold visitors’ attention, said Sharon Babaian, the curator responsible for redeveloping the hall.

But the new space will use them to tell a broader story of Canada between 1900 and 1960 — that of “migrants, business people, farmers, manufacturers, retailers and every average Canadian who travelled or received and sent mail.”

Many visitors of the new hall will probably make a beeline for the virtual-reality simulator that transports users into the engine room of the iconic CN Railway 6400 — and puts them at the controls.

The Canada Science and Technology Museum closed in September 2014 to undergo an $80-million federally funded retrofit. Part of that funding went towards a new mechanical room that is energy efficient and allows museum staff to precisely control the temperature throughout the building.

SciTech lobby
The redesigned lobby of the Science and Tech Museum. Photo by Alex Abdelwahab.

This allowed them to add a temperature-controlled temporary-exhibit space, which can host fragile artifacts from around the world — something that was not possible before, according to Christina Tessier, the museum’s director general.

Visitors will also be able to see and learn about the mechanical room through glass.

Overall the completed museum will have 11 exhibition spaces. And yes, the crazy kitchen will be back.

The redesigned space will also have new children’s gallery with a special station dubbed ‘ZOOOMobile’ (that's three “O”s), where kids can build and race cars, then take them apart, redesign and rebuild them, and race them again.

This story originally appeared in Metro News.